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Why Do People Quit?

Nope, it ain't for more money....

· Executive Coaching,CSR,Leadership

Over the course of my 20 year recruiting career, I have consistently tried to dig into why people leave jobs. Though I have never tracked the data formally, there are two clear winners tied for first place:

  • They don’t like the person they report to
  • They don’t think what they are doing matters in the grander scheme of things

That’s it. The other reasons - more money, shorter commute, more growth opportunity – fall far behind.

With Millennials forming the workforce of the future, addressing these two issues is a necessity, not a luxury.   Their generation won’t put up with compromising values or sanity for a paycheck.  So what should you do to ensure your crew doesn’t leave for greener pastures?  Here are some ideas, as well as links to business cases/ROI studies to back them up:

Leadership: When I say “They don’t like the person they report to.”, that can be translated into variations including:

  • Being expected to compromise work/life balance
  • Being treated unprofessionally (being yelled at, unrealistic expectations, favoritism, etc.)
  • Being expected to do unethical things
  • Person doesn’t lead by example – expects a person to do as they say, not as they do
  • The manager is just no fun - perhaps lacking in EQ, empathy or a sense of humor
  • The leader is not a leader – they have weak leadership skills, are ignorant about how to manage people and careers, don’t address conflicts within a team, underperformance, etc.

Addressing any of these variations will require your willingness to take responsibility for your abilities (or lack thereof) as a leader. You’ll need to be brave, self-aware and willing to do the work necessary to improve. Here are ideas:

  • Feedback - Get feedback from your team – actual, real life, honest feedback. If it means bringing in a neutral third party to get it for you, do that. The team obviously has to feel safe. Read Thanks For The Feedback. It’s an incredibly short, sweet, tactical approach to giving and getting feedback.   Here’s an article on the value of a well-executed 360 from HBR.
  • Executive Coaching – get it. Get it for your Exec team if there is dysfunction in the C-suite. Or between two co-Founders. Even better, get it to AVOID any of the scenarios above. The best coaching clients are ones that already have it together for the most part, but want to ensure they evolve.  Case studies focused on the ROI of executive coaching  - study1, study2, study3

Purpose & Meaning: Even if your company makes widgets, you can still infuse your culture with a sense of purpose and meaning. Here are some ways to do that:

  • Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR)CSR is a big thing now, however you don’t have to be a big company to implement a CSR strategy. Here is a business case from the Harvard Law School Forum for implementing CSR.
  • Give Back – as a company, you can decide on a charity or mission to support as a whole. This is a great bonding mechanism, can feed the souls of your team, and can be implemented at little to no cost, if cash is low. Pick a charity to volunteer with as a group, such as a local elementary school, or volunteer events with DEFY Ventures, Habitat for Humanity, various 5ks, etc.   Here’s a great business case study for organizing company wide efforts to give back.

A career is no longer just a job. A leader is no longer just a manager. Both have become holistic frameworks which merge tactics and humanity. The bottom line is that your bottom line will only prosper if you nurture all facets of yourself and your team. And isn’t that amazing?!

There has historically been a ubiquitous correlation between “doing good” and “doing without”.  Be someone who changes that to a paradigm where by “doing good”  and being a great leader, you totally kill it, and propel your company to great financial and personal success. You in?

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